This winter Bruges will be lighting up with the Winter Glow festival, commencing on 25 November and lasting into the New Year. This quintessential medieval European city will be at its atmospheric best, illuminated by decorations, over 500 Christmas trees (some of them many metres high) and a new Light Experience Trail.
If you’re hankering after your own Christmassy cinematic moment, why not try ice skating on the Minnewater ‘lake of love’? And with not one, but two Christmas markets to explore plus a cosy winter bar, you might be tempted to make it an overnight festive trip or romantic getaway.
1. Christmas market
The two Christmas markets in the city centre have been revamped since last year. Each has its own special character. For a traditional Christmas offering, head to Markt Square, where markets have been held for over 1000 years! When you’ve absorbed the historic atmosphere and plenty of mulled wine, head to Simon Stevinplein, just a three-minute walk away, where the emphasis is on short chain and craft products.
2. Festive shopping
With 18 dedicated ‘minimal traffic’ shopping days in Bruges during the festive period, you’ll be able to enjoy strolling the city’s beautifully decorated streets and squares and discover its creative makers and charming boutiques. Free public transport will be on hand. The shopping days fall on the four weekends leading up to Christmas, as well as Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and the first full weekend of January.
3. Light trail
When evening starts drawing in, this year’s Light Experience Trail will lift your spirits anew. Entitled ‘Awakening’, it includes eight installations in stunning locations such as the Oud Waterhuis and St Godelieve’s – a Benedictine abbey.
4. Ice Rink
The light trail will also lead you to the Minnewater lake, or ‘lake of love’, where a floating and sustainable artificial ice rink will give you the chance to skate under starlike illuminations.
5. Frost Bar and to bed
To complete the Frost Fair atmosphere, next to the ice rink lies the Frost Bar (Vorst Winter Bar), where drinks, snacks and the twinkling of countless lights will put you back to your bed in a Christmassy dream, ready for another day of Bruges delights. From family-run hotels to historic charm and luxury, Bruges’s hospitality will not disappoint.
6. Stay another day
And if you still have more in you, you can adopt the motto of Louis of Gruuthuse, Plus est en vous with a visit to his splendid palace, the Gruuthusemuseum. Understand three periods in Bruges’s history and see magnificent tapestries, lace, sculptures and porcelain. A Musea Brugge Card gives you entry to this and all other open locations of Musea Brugge for 72 hours at a reduced price.